Read everything

Before the semester begins, I want to urge parents and families to help us reinforce a message we want students to hear, and that is: read everything.

Read the syllabus for class. All the pages. All the details.

Read every email you get from a faculty member or an administrator, because that is how administrative and academic processes will be communicated to you.

Read all the requirements listed on study abroad or other applications. Especially read the deadlines and due dates.

Read the fine print. Even (or maybe especially) when the email or document is long. And if something does not make sense or is unclear, ask the sender for clarification right then and there, because you will be held accountable for the contents – whether you have read them or not.

This sounds elementary, I know, but we have so many situations where a student misses a deadline, doesn’t fulfill a requirement, or loses out on an opportunity because they did not read the fine print or just didn’t read carefully enough. And then they are upset about the consequences.

Sometimes the consequences are relatively harmless, and sometimes they are not. Over the years, I have seen students not read emails saying they had an unpaid tuition bill or financial hold, and then they could not register for classes on time (and had to watch all their classes get picked up by other students until they could pay the fee the next morning). I have seen students not read the fact that applications for study abroad programs or other things were being accepted on a rolling basis, and then it’s closed by the time the student submits theirs.

Reading everything is a good habit to get in. It’s not a good look to be unaware of details that have been sent to you. Soon, your students will have to be making good impressions on potential (or actual) bosses, and you don’t want to be the person who is caught unawares and makes a bad impression.

Parents and families, you can help in a couple of ways: stress the importance of reading everything. And in the event your Deac doesn’t read the details, hold them accountable and let them experience the consequence that comes from not reading what they should have. We gotta play the long game as parents and family members – and experience will be the best teacher.

— by Betsy Chapman, Ph.D. (’92, MA ’94)

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